The comments of a recent Bites post included a discussion of the growing popularity of flavored vodkas vs. infusions. Shawn Courtney, the owner/general manager of Past Perfect downtown on 3rd Avenue South would be delighted to show you the difference.
"The orange flavoring in 'Mandarin' vodkas is like the flavoring in children's aspirin. Sure, it makes it look and taste kind of orange but you wouldn't want to eat it if you didn't have to."
With 30+ fruit and herbal vodka-based infusions at various stages of percolation at all times, Courtney intends to add authentic flavors to the cocktails offered at Past Perfect. When asked for a recommendation of a refreshing summer drink, the staff suggested a "Perfect Mule," their take on a root beer float.
While the Mule might not have been perfect, it did offer a kick. Based on vodka infused with fresh ginger, Past Perfect adds simple syrup, freshly squeezed key lime and a splash of Barq's root beer, otherwise know in New Orleans as "hangover helper." The drink is topped with a froth of pasteurized egg whites, in the style of a Ramos Gin Fizz. The cocktail is wisely served in a tall glass with a straw to keep your nose out of the drink since the aroma of the eggs was a bit distracting to flavor of the rest of the ingredients.
More successful was Courtney's personal recommendation, his version of a Long Island Tea. Not your typical "left side of the well and a splash from the bar mat" L.I.T., this drink is derived from the original Oak Beach Inn recipe of all the white liquors (vodka, gin, rum, tequila), Triple Sec, simple syrup, homemade sour mix, a kiss of cola and again, a froth of egg white. The addition of fresh ingredients really makes this concoction stand out from the crowd, but with little room left in the glass for mixers you should consider ordering a set of kneepads with your third drink.
Courtney and the staff of Past Perfect take great pride in their ingredients, down to the variety of in-house bitters which they add to great effect to many of their offerings. "I don't make drinks," avers Courtney. "I make ingredients."
And he mixes them damned well.
122 3rd Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37201
All vodka infusions 2 for 1 on Sunday nights